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Cemeteries and Burial Grounds

This page provides a range of practical advice on looking after historic cemeteries, churchyards and burial grounds.

Caring for and conserving cemeteries

Historic England has published two guides on caring for and conserving cemeteries and burial grounds.

Caring for Historic Graveyard and Cemetery Monuments

Caring for Historic Graveyard and Cemetery Monuments

Published 7 November 2011

Guidance and best practice for the assessment, planning and implementation of conservation work to monuments as well as legal frameworks and statutory duties.

Caring for Historic Graveyard and Cemetery Monuments is intended for anyone interested in or responsible for the conservation of monuments, memorials and sculptural elements within a churchyard, burial ground or cemetery.

It provides guidance on best practice for assessing, planning and carrying out conservation work to monuments, as well as information on legal frameworks and statutory duties.

The proforma condition report can be used to record monuments and plan repairs. This is included in the above publication. 

Paradise Preserved (2nd ed)

Paradise Preserved (2nd ed)

Published 31 January 2007

2nd edition. An introduction to the historic and wildlife conservation management issues for cemeteries. It covers designations, plans, care of memorials, and includes an extensive reading list and useful contacts.

Published in partnership with Natural England, Paradise Preserved looks at the issues of historic and wildlife conservation management for cemeteries.

The guidance covers designations, conservation management plans and the care of memorials.

A special issue of Conservation Bulletin on the ‘Heritage of Death’ includes articles on excavations in churchyards, the scientific study of human skeletal remains and the recording of public monuments.

The Ministry of Justice and the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management have both published guides for burial ground managers, including topics such as safety.

View of the cluster of monuments in front of a chapel
Kensal Green Cemetery was founded in 1833. The cemetery includes listed buildings and monuments and is also registered as an important designed landscape

Listing cemeteries and monuments

Guidance on how we list cemeteries and monuments is set out in our Selection Guides.

Commemorative Structures

Commemorative Structures

Published 30 April 2011

A guide to outline the selection criteria used when designating commemorative structures.

Landscapes of Remembrance

Landscapes of Remembrance

Published 1 February 2013

One of four designation selection guides setting out the selection criteria for the inclusion of landscapes of remembrance to the Register of Parks and Gardens.

We have also produced a list of registered cemeteries and why they were listed along with a second leaflet which lists the cemeteries in date order and the designers involved.

Human remains and artefacts

Working with the Church of England, Historic England has published guidelines on how to treat human remains excavated from Christian burial grounds.

Guidance for Best Practice for Treatment of Human Remains excavated from Christian burial Grounds in England.

Victorian photograph of a tall stone monument in a cemetery
A photograph from the 1860s of the monument marking the re-internment of human remains removed from the graveyards disturbed when Queen Victoria Street was created in London.

Grants

The Heritage Lottery Fund’s Parks for People grant scheme includes grants for cemetery restoration projects.

Volunteering

If you are interested in volunteering, the National Federation of Cemetery Friends' website has links to local groups of volunteers.

Night time photograph of ruined grave monuments in an overgrown cemetery
After many years of neglect, the Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust and its volunteers have restored the Grade II* listed buildings and landscape, and work is underway on the monuments
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